PIA increases seven more flights weekly for Jeddah

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ISLAMABAD: Starting from this week, national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will add seven more flights for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, bringing the total to 42 per week up from 34, an airline official told Arab News.

With an aim to maintain its competitive edge in an aggressive airline industry, the semi-state-owned commercial carrier will also operate 13 international flights on new routes in October, with two more flights from Karachi to Toronto; increasing the total number of flights to Canada to five.

“If Saudi Airlines is operating on certain destinations, PIA must compete, otherwise it will be out of the market,” Mashood Tajwar, PIA’s general manager and official spokesman said, adding that the Saudi carrier was catering to passenger traffic from a number of Pakistani cities some which PIA added to its flight routes this year.

PIA, which recently added two weekly flights from Quetta to Jeddah, in addition to new flights from Multan, last added routes to Saudi Arabia from Peshawar to Madinah and Dammam in September. “Saudis were operating to and from Peshawar since long”, Tajwar said, “so the balance needs to be maintained.

The national flag commercial carrier currently flies to four destinations weekly from Pakistan to Jeddah, Dammam, Madinah, and Riyadh.

The increase in flight frequency to Saudi Arabia comes ahead of the Umrah season which PIA is seeking to capitalize. “In the coming months, the quantum of traffic will definitely increase due to Umrah also,” the spokesman said.

According to the Saudi Hajj Ministry, the largest number of Umrah pilgrims this year were from Pakistan (1,353,625) followed by Indonesia (881,459), India (579,443), Egypt (405,750) and Turkey (279,038).